It was one of those indelible moments. It was early evening on October 25th. I was sitting at the Oscar Grant Plaza's amphitheater, kicking back, my eyes closed, enjoying the moment, listening to different Occupy Oakland speakers talk. About half an hour earlier I've asked Noura Khouri, one of the organizers of that day's event (Protest against the "Urban Shield' conference), if she would be so kind as to make a statement on video about the event.
I opened my eyes, looked around, observing. I see honesty and integrity and commitment and compassion and love and brotherhood and friendship and camaraderie and a certain lust for justice. I noticed Ms. Khouri is sitting a few feet away and I decide to go over where she is and ask her one more question: Why do you think there aren't 100,000 people here?
She started to answer and talked about the great boots-on-the ground work Occupy Oakland was doing, and within a few seconds I apologized: "I'm sorry, I din't mean to imply that there was anything wrong; that was just a rhetorical question." I knew she and the rest of the Occupy Oakland team have done an amazing job to organize the day's activities, and I knew they do great work every day of the week.
Why aren't 100,000 people rising up against the depraved an increasingly brutal, exploitative and fascistic (international) corporate state at any given moment anywhere is a question I often ask, rhetorically. I've been asking that question for years, but especially after the passage of the so-called Patriot Act on October 26th, 2001.
And of course, for at least 10 years before that I've already noticed the accelerating pace towards authoritarianism and the wholesale takeover of our system of government by powerful corporatist cartels. A lot of the corporate state security and legal (fascistic) infrastructure was already being put into place during the Clinton years. By the time the Patriot Act came along, it was already in place. And now it is entrenching itself... But not for much longer.
Photo by Ray Pensador - Sat., Oct. 12, 2013 - Mission & 24th St.
The corporate state already failed. It failed because of two main reasons: It cannot longer hide its true intentions (its true nature) behind the veneer of democracy due to the fact that human and natural resources (and the existential threat of climate change) are not able to keep up with its rapacious greed; being no longer able to hide its true intentions (for much longer), it is now engaged in an increasingly brutal campaign of repression, putting the fascistic infrastructure it built for this moment (total information awareness surveillance, militarization of police forces, an increasingly repressive and draconian two-tiered legal system) into action.
“The globalization of the exchange of services, capital and patents has led over the past ten years to establish a world dictatorship of finance capital. The small transcontinental oligarchies that hold the financial capital dominate the planet… The lords of financial capital wield over billions of human beings a power of life and death. Through their investment strategies, their stock market speculations, their alliances, they decide day to day who has the right to live on this planet and who is doomed to die.”What I knew 15, 20 years ago, millions of other people knew as well. This stuff has been happening in plain view (for those willing to see it). Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement knew it and acted on it, forcing the state to reveal its true face (at least for a while), as it brutally suppressed the peaceful uprising.
-- Archbishop of Tegucigalpa Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga (confidant of Pope Francis)
[The emphasis is mine]
And as more and more people come to realize the true nature of the system, the mind-numbing media corporate propaganda it has been using for years as one of its main tools of control degenerates into grotesque banana republic-level spectacles.
And it is at this point, the system no longer able to hide behind the veneer of democracy, no longer able to fool all the people all the time with cheap banana republic-style propaganda, no longer able to meet its basic duties of providing for the common good, of maintaining a leveled playing field, that it will be forced to finally take its mask off and show its true self. And that is why it has failed.
Throughout the years I've heard the apologists and the fearful demanding that those of us who speak clearly about what we see happening put forward a detailed blueprint describing exactly what will replace the current system, if our "wish" for (peaceful) revolution comes to be. One sometimes feel as if they're saying "Don't talk about these things, don't upset the apple cart... Your rhetoric is defeatist, a downer, depressing, unhelpful... 'Better to maintain the lie' since we don't know what the future will hold if people revolt."
No one has to put forward an entire socioeconomic blueprint in order to demand that our constitutional protections are respected, or that the rule of law is applied equally to all without bias or prejudice, or that banksters who stole trillions of dollars and caused untold misery for millions of people are held to account for their crimes, or that those in public service stop abusing the sacred trust we've given by selling their offices to the highest bidder, or stop war profiteering, torture, the killing of hundreds of innocent people with drone attacks, etc., etc., etc. No one, no entity, can demand anything in return for justice!
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.Some often mention that if the corporate state is truly challenged, that there could be violence, and so it is better to STFU up and no make too many demands, not to become too organized, or too effective in the fight for social justice...
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.
- Frederick Douglass
My answer to that is, "Aren't you aware of the actual violence the system is inflicting on millions of people, of the brutality. Aren't you aware of the countless people who are living in utter terror and fear right this very moment as the result of policies that have been carefully crafted to bring about that result? Did you hear about the woman is Spain who in desperation because she was about to be evicted ran through the window of her apartment and fell to her death? About the thousands who have taken their own lives as a direct result of the policies being pushed by the international financial cartel, of whom even the Pope talked about recently?" That is violence; that is the new face of fascism, with a Neoliberal flavor.
I know that those who know about these things suggest that when we try meditating that we do so by thinking about beautiful things, or better yet, not thinking about anything. I do that sometimes... Other times, I do a different type of meditation; I close my eyes and try to imagine the pain and horror being felt at that very moment by the homeless dying of hypothermia in the streets, by the head of household about to be evicted during the holiday season, by the long-term unemployed who's buckling down under financial pressure, by the prisoners who are being tortured and abused in our brutal prison system, by all who are being victimized because of the depravity and greed of the ruling class... I also find that kind of meditation helpful. It's call empathy!
These are my conclusions. I've concluded that the system is malevolent, and that it will not only continue its barbarism, but that it will get increasingly worse with each passing day, until we decide we've had enough.
We live in the world that your propaganda made, but when you think you are strong, you are weak. Your lies tell us the truth we will use against you. Your secrecy shows us where we will strike. Your weapons reveal your fear for all to see. From Cairo to Quito a new order is forming. The power of people armed with the truth.
-- Julian Assange / Calle 13 multi-viral
I'm not going to ask you to agree with any of this right now. But I am going to ask you to consider thinking about the true nature of the system; take your time, but do the best you can to try to fully understand it. If you conclude that it is benevolent, and fair, and just, then carry on doing your thing.
However, if you conclude, as I've concluded, that it is evil, malevolent, exploitative, despotic, and cruel, then I'm going to ask you to meet me at the public square on April 15th, 2014.
Meet me in San Francisco, Oakland, Madrid, London, Paris, Athens, Rome, Washington, New York, Berlin...
Don't worry about what happens next. Bring your guitar, bring your radio, bring sandwiches to share with others, bring your poetry, your drawings, your music, your protest signs, your compassion. Just show up; be there. The rest will take care of itself!
And so from now on, when I meditate, I will imagine sitting at the same place I sat on October 25th 2013, kicking back, my eyes closed, listening... That's how 100,000 people gathered in the public square exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly to demand justice sound like. And we will remain there until all our grievances are fully addressed.
And by all means, know that to me the Gathering of April 15th is just a concept. If you want to do it before then, I'll be there; if you want to do it after that date, I'll be there as well. Whenever you are ready, I'll be there!
And don't be fearful. No one should ever be fearful for demanding justice.
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